When the news broke that Unipart had entered administration, it will have been something of a blow for the 1800-odd “loyal” employees of the company. Indeed the only good thing for employees was the end of the speculation roller coaster than began with managers suggesting a rescue could come in 36 hours, followed by reports that Euro Car Parts was a front runner, and finally the announcement two weeks later that nothing could be done for the company. But what about staff?
Following the collapse of Unipart Automotive last week, competitor and former front-runner in potential rescue talks, Euro Car Parts, has announced that it plans to create 1500 jobs over the next 18 months. The fact that this figure is roughly equivalent to the entire size of the former Unipart Automotive workforce should not be overlooked. Neither should the obvious question – how? With this and the Unipart collapse in mind, what looks clear is that, compare with the first half of this year, the automotive aftermarket will be a significantly different place.
The charity has contacted KPMG, the appointed administrators, and hopes that through them, and its own communications, it can ensure that those who have been displaced know BEN is on hand during this potentially difficult period.
Administrator KPMG will support 1,244 Unipart Automotive staff through the redundancy process. The firm said its team of employment specialists will also put staff in touch with job seeker services. Further information on Unipart Automotive for all interested parties will also be posted on KPMG’s Insolvency Portal.
33 Unipart Automotive sites were transferred to Andrew Page and The Parts Alliance in a deal that saved 361 jobs. The full list of sites taken on by Andrew Page and the Parts Alliance is published below, while the remaining 147 sites that are currently inactive follow.
The Unipart Group has released a statement on Unipart Automotive’s descent into administration and the partial rescue by a joint deal between Andrew Page and The Parts Alliance. While expressing sympathy for the company’s plight, the Unipart Group sought to delineate the boundary between the Unipart business units of which it remains in control and the stricken parts distributor.
Automotive parts business Andrew Page has rescued around 350 jobs, spearheading a deal with The Parts Alliance to takeover 33 branches of Unipart Automotive, which entered administration today. Andrew Page has taken 21 branches and The Parts Alliance a total of 12, with the terms of the deal as yet undisclosed. Andrew Page rejoined major UK and Ireland buying and distribution group The Parts Alliance following a six year absence on 8 July, coinciding with Unipart Automotive’s announcement that it had put the administrators on standby, a clear signal that some kind of move was on the cards. Tyrepress estimated Andrew Page possessed a growing share of the automotive parts market of around seven per cent at the time; the company will expect today’s news will help to grow that share quickly, having increased its existing network of 93 branches by 23 per cent.
After two weeks of intensive rescue talks, Unipart Automotive has failed to find a buyer and called in administrators KPMG. Immediately afterwards administrators sold part of the business in a joint deal to car parts/workshop equipment distributors Andrew Page and The Parts Alliance. The deal will see Andrew Page acquire 21 branches and The Parts Alliance a total of 12. A total of 361 staff employed across these sites have transferred to Andrew Page and The Parts Alliance with immediate effect. Andrew Page announced it had rejoined The Parts Alliance on 8 July, the same day the news broke that Unipart Automotive had put the administrators on alert and was seeking out a rescue plan.
Unipart Group wishes to make clear that it is a separate entity to Unipart Automotive. The company has published the following statement on its website: “Recent press coverage has confused Unipart Automotive with Unipart Group. It is important to note that Unipart Group and Unipart Automotive are different companies.
At the end of last week Unipart Automotive renewed its intention to appoint administrators, which several sources have named as being KPMG. This is significant because, as was the case when news of the rescue talks broke on 8 July, such an announcement not only raises the possibility of the company entering administration but it can also provide a moratorium which acts as protection for a limited time.
While there hasn’t yet been a clear outcome of the Unipart Automotive rescue talks, new bidders have entered into takeover discussions. Sources close to the talks have confirmed to Tyres & Accessories that buyout firm R Capital, which is known for an earlier rescue of the Little Chef chain in 2007 (the café business was sold to Kuwaiti investors last year) has now entered the Unipart Automotive rescue talks.
Investment bank William Blair said it views a potential rescue deal between Euro Car Parts and Unipart Automotive, if it were to happen, as “a good fit”. However, these words were written in an investor’s note dated 10 July and so far there hasn’t been any more information on how the talks with Euro Car Parts, Better Capital and at least one other party are progressing as yet.
Sources are reporting that the Unipart Automotive rescue bids have been received and we are likely to hear the outcome in the next 24 hours, but these claims could not be officially verified. Earlier in the week separate sources close to the negotiations told Tyres & Accessories they were expecting talks to conclude towards the end of the week, which would seem to fit into the same timeframe. With managers saying they were hopeful talks could be wrapped up in 36 hours at the beginning of the process on 8 July, the fact that almost 10 days have now passed suggests things are becoming increasingly urgent. It is also putting pressure on its loyal workforce. However, the official line from shareholders Unipart Group and H2 Equity as well as one of the three bidders Euro Car Parts has been a unified “no comment”.
We know Unipart Automotive is in need of a buyer. We know at least three companies including Euro Car Parts and Better Capital are talking to the owners about a takeover/rescue plan. But a lot remains unknown and so Unipart Automotive’s roughly 1600 employees are facing a great deal of uncertainty while the talks continue causing some to consider their employment options moving forward.
According to detailed research undertaken by United Aftermarket Network (UAN), annual UK automotive aftermarket distributor turnover is now estimated to be worth £2.5 billion. The research shows that three companies (Euro Car Parts, Andrew Page and Motor Parts Direct) collectively share around 27 per cent of the total market. In terms of buying groups, three companies including UAN account for over 40 per cent of the total market.